Read about the Music With Friends project
1. If you could be an active composer in any other time period, when and why?
I would want to be active in the time of Ars Nova. The why of this is confusing because that would probably be one of the worst times in European history to want to live, but the music, to me, is so transcendent.
2. Dog, cat, or goldfish?
3. Would you rather…be married to someone who is a know-it-all or someone who is very ignorant?
Definitely have to marry a know-it-all, cuz I sure don't.
4. You’re trapped on an island. There is one electrical outlet connected to a boombox from 1992. When you were stranded here you only had time to save one cassette out of collection of singles. What is the one pop song you will listen to for the rest of your life?
Sunday Morning--Velvet Underground
5. Who are 3 composers from the past -AND- 3 of your own generation whose music you respect, enjoy, inspires you, etc…
Past: Guillaume Machaut, John Cage, Edgard Varese
Present: Daniel Harrison , Tyler Eschendal, Gregory Rowland Evans
What is the point of forgetting? (2014) for flute and percussion
This was the piece that Sully wrote for the festival. It impressed me quite a bit. Many young composers do not have the patience to stick with ideas for very long and their pieces end up sounding very manic. Sully’s music has some influence of Morton Feldman and other composers that create texture and mood through varied repetition.
Sully is also a percussionist (another point of bonding for us). So the percussion writing is very nice and does not overpower the flute. There are several different movements in this piece and the one which begins with vibraphone absolutely had me transfixed. The first time I heard it, I thought the vibraphonist hit a “wrong” note and I really hoped it wasn’t a mistake because it was a really awesome compositional choice. And as it turns out, my hopes for the piece were confirmed. Such a fulfilling moment. Well done.
Let Monarchy Keep It (mvts 2-5) for string quartet
One critique I would have for this piece is that sometimes the ideas are too crystal clear. I think we always walk a fine line between not being understood at all and then having the audience thinking, “ok, I get it, move on.” The thing is I really like the types of ideas here. However, I think I would appreciate them even more if there was even one additional layer imposed on them. I think it is solid writing, but it needs more solid writing on top of or beneath it.
It is the kind of piece that has an audience on the edge of their seat and holding their breath which is very nice in a time period where nearly every composer is out trying to prove how big and loud they can be.
The third movement material is gorgeous. But, again, as a listener I can figure it out within a few chords. Just like the vibraphone/flute movement in the previous piece, it needs an outlier that can be developed. After four minutes, the idea begins to lose its beauty, which is unfortunate. And after seven minutes, I was ready to skip to the next movement. And in the very last chord iteration, the cello plays a note before they get to their chord note. That’s it! That could have been the development over the course of the piece. You are working with chords and then add in scales before the chord notes, adding more and more with rhythmic complexity in each voice. The voices could start to pull apart and eventually from chords you have four separate voices each playing some sort of scale and a long note that is ornamented with ponticello. These are just ideas, but as a listener, after being frustrated for a few minutes and then hearing this small idea that comes (I don’t know, it might have even been a mistake by the player, this was a reading after all) in the last seconds of the piece, all of these other ideas burst forth and leave me thinking, “oh man, I wish he would have done that.”
Formally, I appreciate pieces in which the movements are lopsided. The fourth movement is less than two minutes after the 8-minute third movement. I’m sure this was somewhat necessary and that there were some time restrictions imposed upon this piece. But, I think this is a great idea regardless. We are too accustomed to hearing a certain length of movement and certain relationships between movements and it makes for boring listening. It is like watching a sitcom. Exposition-commercial break -complications-commercial break-secondary plot is solved-commercial break-primary plot is solved in 5-7 minute increments. Boring.
Overall, I enjoy this piece with the reservation that I wish the ideas evolved. I think they are good ideas but, they need to grow.